Not too late to fi­nally mesh

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Edgar Thomp­son

GAINESVILL­E — UF coach Mike White’s team en­ters 2020 sit­ting out­side the top 25, miss­ing too many open shots, giv­ing up too many turnovers and not earn­ing enough as­sists.

Things have not gone as ex­pected for a team hop­ing to lean on an ex­plo­sive of­fense.

The Gators’ top-10 re­cruit­ing class has not taken the col­lege bas­ket­ball world by storm ei­ther, leav­ing one of the na­tion’s pop­u­lar picks in Oc­to­ber for the Fi­nal Four search­ing for it­self as SEC play tips off.

The pre­sea­son hype long has worn off, leav­ing White’s squad with a clean slate head­ing into Satur­day’s visit from Alabama.

“[A] fresh start for all of us, re­ally,” White said Fri­day. “Great op­por­tu­ni­ties night in [and] night out [against] some of the best teams in the coun­try.

“[We’ll be see­ing] great coaches, great play­ers, great prepa­ra­tion, great crowds and are­nas — it’s ex­cit­ing.”

Roller coast­ers can be too. The Gators’ non­con­fer­ence sched­ule cer­tainly would qual­ify as a wild, at times nau­se­at­ing, ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It had ups and downs,” sopho­more point guard An­drew Nem­b­hard said. “Ob­vi­ously we wanted to have a bet­ter record than we have right now, but it’s been a re­ally good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for us and I think it’ll only help us in our sea­son.”

White now hopes to en­joy a smoother ride as the Gators (8-4) look to build their NCAA Tour­na­ment ré­sumé.

UF is 2-4 against teams cur­rently in the top 125 in the Rat­ings Per­cent­age In­dex but will face eight in the next nine games. The Gators visit No. 130 South Carolina on Tues­day.

Ranked No. 61, Alabama of­fers the chance for an­other qual­ity win, but it won’t come easy.

The Crim­son Tide (7-5) re­cently have found their stride un­der first-year coach Nate Oats. The 45-year-old re­placed Avery John­son and brought an up­tempo brand of bas­ket­ball from

MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY

UF hasn’t given coach Mike White much to shout about this sea­son in re­gard to solid per­for­mances, but things have started look­ing up.

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